CLEVELAND -- The Indians are looking at much more than pitching lines while evaluating Danny Salazar's progress since being sent down to Triple-A Columbus. The young righty was tasked with fine-tuning some mechanical flaws, and Cleveland was encouraged by his last outing.
"His line score wasn't very good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But it sounded like he threw a lot more fastballs down in the zone. He had gotten a little out of whack in his delivery."
Prior to optioning the 24-year-old Salazar to Triple-A on May 16, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway -- with the assistance of Triple-A pitching coach Tony Arnold, director of baseball operations Derek Falvey and special assistant to baseball operations Jason Bere -- presented the pitcher with some still images to compare his delivery this year to how it looked last season.
During his early season stint in the Indians' rotation, the Tribe's staff found that Salazar was raising his lead arm too high in his delivery. That was creating a chain reaction throughout the right-hander's throwing motion, contributing to decreased velocity and hindering his ability to pound the lower half of the strike zone.
"It wasn't so much the height of his lead arm," Francona explained. "It's what it was doing to the rest of everything else. He was kind of rocking and wasn't driving off that back leg."
In eight starts with the Indians this year, Salazar went 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in 40 2/3 innings, in which he piled up 47 strikeouts, but issued 17 walks, allowed eight home runs and saw batters hit at a .301 clip against him. That was a drastic contrast to 2013, when Salazar spun a 3.12 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 15 walks in 52 innings for Cleveland.
"We've got to get him back to being in a strong position," Francona said, "where he can throw the ball down with some drive. I think he understands that. It may not happen overnight."
In three starts since being optioned to Columbus, Salazar has gone 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings, striking out 15, walking eight and allowing a .356 opponents' average. He allowed eight runs in eight innings combined over his first two starts with the Clippers. On Friday, Salazar yielded three runs on 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings against Louisville.
"Just talking to Jason Bere," Francona said, "he said, 'Don't let that line score beat you up. He wasn't that bad.' That was good to hear."
Indians recall Hagadone, option Lowe to Triple-A
CLEVELAND -- The Indians adjusted the look of their bullpen before Monday's game against the Red Sox, recalling left-hander Nick Hagadone from Triple-A Columbus and optioning righty Mark Lowe to the same affiliate.
With Hagadone back in the fold, manager Terry Francona has three lefties -- Marc Rzepczynski and Josh Outman are the others -- at his disposal. Cleveland is still featuring an eight-man relief corps.
The 28-year-old Hagadone is coming off a strong May showing with Columbus, where he posted a 2.25 ERA and compiled 22 strikeouts against three walks in 12 innings last month. Overall this season, the lefty has turned in a 3.09 ERA with 35 strikeouts and nine walks in 23 1/3 innings, in which he has held lefties to a .171 average.
"Nick's gotten on a really good role in Triple-A," Francona said. "We think the timing is good for him. ... The way Boston is situated right now, they're so left-handed. We wanted to get a little more balance in our bullpen. Lowe was actually throwing the ball pretty well, but also we want to use [John] Axford more."
Entering Monday, Axford had not pitched in Cleveland's previous five games, which all had final scores separated by three or fewer runs. Francona noted that the right-hander is healthy and the manager added that he preferred to use other arms during the stretch of close games.
Hagadone was previously promoted to Cleveland on May 3, but he did not pitch and was optioned back to Triple-A the following day. Across the 2011-13 seasons with the Indians, he posted a 5.59 ERA in 72 appearances, but limited left-handed batters to a .183 average in that span.
The 30-year-old Lowe had his contract purchased from Triple-A by the Indians on May 22 -- one day after Cleveland wore its bullpen out in an 11-10, 13-inning win over the Tigers. In four appearances for the Tribe, Lowe spun a 2.08 ERA in 4 1/3 innings with as many strikeouts (five) as walks.
Cleveland also saw right-hander Blake Wood claimed off waivers by Kansas City on Monday. The Indians, who handed Wood a spot in the Opening Day roster, designated the righty for assignment Tuesday. He turned in a 7.11 ERA for the Tribe in seven games in April before being sent back to Triple-A Columbus.
Quote to note
"I probably need to talk more about him, because he's not going to brag about himself. He's one of the better players in the game. And it's not just hitter, it's baserunner, outfielder, teammate. He's gotten to that point now where I think you're going to start seeing national recognition."
-- Francona, on Michael Brantley's All-Star candidacy
• Indians third baseman and backup catcher Carlos Santana (seven-day concussion list) fielded ground balls on the field before Monday's game against the Red Sox. Francona indicated that Santana might be cleared to be activated by Friday.
"He went out and did some progressive running [Sunday]," Francona said Monday. "Today, he went out and took some ground balls. He's actually doing pretty well. His [eligibility] date is Wednesday. I don't think that's realistic with the medical staff. They think Friday is realistic. To me, that's a pretty good sign."
Francona was asked if he might be hesitant to use Santana behind the plate in light of the concussion situation. The Indians are carrying George Kottaras as a backup to starting catcher Yan Gomes.
"That's something I'd like to talk to Carlos about," Francona said.
• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee injury, was scheduled to resume "land-based" baseball activities Monday. Over the past few days, Swisher had been limited to workouts in a pool in order to reduce the stress on his legs.
• Francona said Monday that he is looking forward to seeing Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel throw out a ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox. Asked if he had Johnny Football fever, Francona laughed.
"Yeah, a little bit," Francona said.
• The fourth-place Indians headed into Monday's series out of the American League Central's cellar for the first time since May 15. Cleveland had been in fifth place for the previous 16 days. The Indians have not been higher than fourth place since April 25, when they were third in the division.